Father Junipero Serra
The Saint Junípero Serra is also called “the Apostle of California”. In the 18th century, he founded many missions on the west coast of the USA which later grew to become major cities – San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco among them.
He was born on 24th November 1713 in Petra on Mallorca and christened as Miquel Josep Serra i Ferrer. At the age of 17, he joined the order of the Franciscans, where he was given the name of the companion of Saint Francis of Assisi, Junípero. A few years later he was ordained as a priest and became a professor at the University Luliana in Palma after he had earned his doctor’s degree in theology there.
But in 1749 he decided to travel to Central America as a missionary together with some other Franciscans. He came to the Viceroyality Nueva España, what is now Mexico, where he lived for years as a preacher among the Indians. In 1767 he turned towards the North. Many of the missions he founded still bear Spanish names today: San Diego (1769), Monterey (1770), San Antonio (1771), San Gabriel (present-day Los Angeles, 1771), Santa Barbara (1782) und San Francisco (1776). Junípero took most of these names from the altars in the church of the convent devoted to Saint Bernhardin of Siena in Petra, the town of his birth. Junípero travelled about 5,600 miles on foot although his health was failing.
He died on 28th August 1784 in the mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo which he had founded on the river Carmel near Monterey. He was buried underneath the chapel there. The mission is still one of the most beautiful ones in America and has been designated as a “National Historic Landmark” by the US Secretary of State. The vicarage is very active and regularly organises Holy Masses, lectures, concerts and other events.
Junípero was beatified by John Paul II in 1988 and canonised in 2015 by pope Francis. In the USA he is revered as a city founder, his bust can be found in the Capitol in Washington D. C. in the company of other national heroes.
He has not been forgotten in his home town of Petra either: the memory of the Franciscan monk lives on in the parish church of Sant Pere, in the Convent de Sant-Bernadi and in the small “Museu de Pare Serra”. He inspired the “Serra-Club”, an organisation of laymen devoted to furthering the vocations to priestly orders.
with a simple garment with a hood, with a rosary, a crucifix, a mission in his hand (Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo)